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Singapore – Salaries rise as employers scramble to retain talent

06 November 2013

Singaporean employees are on course to see an increase in pay over the comings months, according to the latest Global Sentiment Survey from Berkley Recruitment, which analyses employment and market perceptions internationally. Now in its ninth year, the survey has also revealed that businesses are increasing headcount at a time when the war for talent is at its highest.

Whilst the global economic crisis put a freeze, and in some cases a stop, to pay rises the survey reveals that the market appears to be turning a corner as we head towards 2014 with 99% of respondents now expecting an increase of some sort. This figure is up +29% on the previous survey in March 2013 and one of the highest recorded across the globe.

With recent reports by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) noting Singapore's economy had grown +5.1% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2013, faster than the second quarter's revised +4.2% growth, organisations are expecting to see an increase in recruitment activity.

Consequently talent retention is paramount, and businesses in the area are using financial incentives to keep key players engaged with the business.  This is sentiment the Regus Business Confidence Index (BCI) survey concurs with. In its report, the BCI found that 46% of Singapore respondents plan to improve staff retention over the next twelve months to optimise business processes and gain maximum advantage from existing assets.

Headcount is on the rise in Singapore with 58% of respondents noting an increase in roles within their business – up 17% on last year’s figures. This positivity comes at a time when the Government has committed to increasing the ratio of local talent in employment.

The latest measure, which comes into force next August, will require companies operating in Singapore to give priority to local residents in the recruitment process, a policy which looks set to exacerbate the war for talent.

According to the survey, while the global economy is showing signs of optimism, sentiment in Singapore looks relatively positive. Company prospects are up with 72% of respondents indicating that their business is performing the same or better than last year.

Job security has remained fairly consistent in Singapore, with 60% of respondents either not worried or less worried. This is comparative to the global sentiment which has remained fairly consistent at 64% - only 1% lower than the previous survey.

The report also found that the Life Sciences industry remains relatively confident, with the majority of those surveyed not worried about job security (45%) and half suggesting their company is doing better compared to last year. The engineering sector appears to be faring particularly well, with only 8% of respondents from this industry suggesting business is worse.

Wendy Cheong, Practice Director at Berkley Group commented: “It’s encouraging that the sentiment in Singapore in general is increasingly positive. As the World Economic Forum names the country the Most Competitive Economy in Asia for the third time running in the 2013 Global Competitiveness Index, it’s perhaps fair to say confidence is returning. As we look towards 2014, however, wage inflations and the war for talent look set to be key challenges for the employment market. ”

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